Anyone looking for a new day to wash away all of the troubles from Saturday's contest came away from this one highly disappointed as more of the same from Saturday night's contest happened today: The Nationals' pitching (especially the bullpen) shut down the Braves bats, and the Nats' offense was just potent enough to produce 4 runs as they salvaged a sweep and ensured that the Braves gained no ground on them in the NL East after this 4-game series.
This game started off badly from the get-go for the Braves. After a quick and uneventful 1st inning for the bats, it was a long 1st inning for Ervin Santana, as the Nationals jumped on Santana early by scoring 2 runs in the first, with only 1 out. As usual, Anthony Rendon was the man who touched things off for Washington, as his walk was what sparked the rally in the 1st. After a single from Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche brought home Rendon with a single up the middle for the first run of the game, then a Zimmerman sac fly made it 2-0. Once again, this was all done with only 1 out and 26 to go for the entire game for the Braves. That's not an ideal start to the game.
There was no more scoring until the 5th inning, and it was once again the Nationals who manufactured a run. A single from Sandy Leon plus a successful sacrifice bunt from Tanner Roark and a single from Denard Span led to bad news for the Braves: Another run for Washington to make it 3-0.
The Braves ran Tanner Roark from the game in the 6th thanks to a 1-out RBI single from Justin Upton, but Roark's exit led to Washington's bullpen entering the game and completely controlling the proceedings from that point forward. Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, and Rafael Soriano came in one after the other and faced, in total, 11 Braves batters. They retired every single one of them in order.
Meanwhile, frustration was the name of the game for the Braves for a 2nd day in a row, and these frustrations boiled over for both Chris Johnson and Justin Upton, who were both thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Johnson's ejection came in the 6th inning, when he was rung up on a check swing call. If you could read lips, then Chris Johnson's ejection could have turned the broadcast on Fox Sports South from TV-G to TV-MA. Justin Upton's ejection came in the 9th after a swinging strikeout, so this was probably a case of J-Up either continuing the argument on Johnson's behalf or just deciding to get his money's worth for the wretched day that most of the Braves had at the plate for the day.
Overall, you know it's an awful day when the number of players who got the heave-ho from the game were greater in number than the runs that the team scored, and that was the case today. Justin Upton's RBI single in the 6th gave Atlanta their only run of the day, and that wasn't nearly enough to win.
The Braves will get out of this series with a split over the 4-games but just as it was the case when the Braves left Colorado with their tails tucked between their legs, the feeling is the same. A road split is nice, but these past two games can be summed up in one word: Blah. Feel free to add an expletive if you feel obliged.
<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=923068&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2014-06-22&team=Nationals&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2014-06-22&team=Nationals&dh=0&season=2014">FanGraphs</a></span>